Congratulations, you've started your own business and you've taken your first steps toward achieving your dream of financial independence and working your own hours, on your own terms. Whether you're just starting out or you've already developed products, which you're actively marketing, you'll want to bring your business to the next level.

Opening your own business can be a frightening experience, with many experiencing doubts, fears and a lack of confidence. But the following list will help you to achieve your goals.

1. Create a roadmap

The best way to succeed at anything in life is to be prepared. Without preparation, you're operating blindly. But if you plan for every eventuality, then nothing will catch you by surprise. It's similar to running a marathon without any training! The same principles apply to preparing to run your own business. You must develop a business plan and then, define your goals, which is our next step.

2. Define your goals

What do you want to achieve? Are you currently doing all you can to ensure you succeed? Is there anything you can do to boost productivity? Efficiency? Are you fully dominating one area before you expand into other markets? Mastering and dominating one area is essential before you opt to expand your venture.

3. How much do you have to spend? 

Do you have a surplus of cash or do you need to get everything right because your budget is tight? If it is the latter, you should really consider what you can do for yourself. Are you good at designing graphics? Then perhaps you should consider designing your own website graphics and logos. If you are a good writer, then you should consider writing your own content and press releases, as this will save you a fair chunk of money which you can put towards other efforts such as advertising in print or online via social media, SEO or SMS/text message marketing.
How much time are you willing to commit to the job? Creating a presence online or offline can be a long, exhausting process. You must set time aside to build contacts and allow your efforts to bear fruit. Advertising is absolutely essential and it's a great area to invest if you have a bit of extra money. 

4. Take Action & Refine Yourself

Now that you know where your business is going – how much time and money you have – it's time to take the next step and take action. However, there are only 24 hours in a day and sleep isn't optional; you must carefully plan your day. Focus on areas that require your attention and outsource other tasks. 

Invest a great deal of time heightening your visibility in an array of different outlets, whether it's search engine rankings, social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, local newspapers and magazines too.

Also, if you run a brick and mortar businesses, you must make your store's niche obvious.  Use Google Analytics to evaluate the impact of your changes and other online efforts. Did changing your keywording pull in extra traffic? Did placing that sign in the local shop provide you with a boost in local website visitors? These analytics are the key to determining what works and what doesn't. A trial and error approach can lead to great success, but you need to evaluate your efforts and Google Analytics enable you to achieve this.

Local Work is King

If you self-promote and boost your reputation locally, then success will come naturally elsewhere. Local success leads other businesses and buyers to pass your company name along, so you can develop a strong reputation within the region and beyond. You should aim to become an authority in your niche; the one people trust when seeking products in a particular niche or information on a given subject.

Brick and mortar businesses like restaurants, salons and gyms must develop an established local following because online sales are not going to be a viable source of income. Your customer base is local and you must treat each and every individual like royalty, as the power of referral can never be under-estimated. Referrals can lead to tremendous success, whatever the field or niche.

It’s vital to get a Google Places account too, as this is quickly becoming the go-to place for a company or business when potential clients or customers search online. Google Places is more popular than most review sites, with popularity that's quickly overshadowing other outlets such as Google Plus or Yellow Pages.

You should also start a blog about events, competitions, information and great deals in your local area. For instance, if you sell fitness equipment, give out free downloadable reports on healthy living to compliment your fitness tools. If you can sell your products before the client thinks of buying, you are well on your way to running a successful business.
What are your top tips for starting a successful business?